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Chapter 14
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PRAYER AND FASTING

The most important aspect of prayer and fasting is doing it.

A Christian needs to:

1. Understand what prayer and fasting is all about.

2. Select the best time to do it.

3. Actually pray and fast.

Prayer.

Prayer needs to be an integral part of the everyday life of a Christian.

Jesus said that men should always pray:

Luke 18:1

"And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;"

Paul teaches that our prayers should continue throughout the day:

1 Thessalonians 5:17

"Pray without ceasing."

Prayers are most valuable and never lost.

They are caught up in Golden Vials in Heaven.

Revelation 5:8

"And golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints."

Prayer is approaching God.

There are five important things about approaching God:

1. It is a delightful experience to approach God in prayer.

Isaiah 58:2

"Yet they seek me daily, they take delight in approaching to God."

2. God causes and allows us to approach Him.

Psalm 65:4

"Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee."

3. We must prepare our hearts to approach God in prayer.

2 Chronicles 19:3

"Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God."

We must ensure that we have:

1. Clean hands

2. A pure heart

3. A humble heart  (James 4:6)

4. A truthful heart

Psalm 24:3-4

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."

Psalm 51:10

"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."

4. We must know how to prepare our hearts?

We prepare our hearts by examining ourselves and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. We ask God to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

1.   We must approach God boldly.

We can do that if we know that our sins have been washed away by the precious Blood of Jesus.

1 John 1:7

"And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

Hebrews 10:19

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus."

We boldly approach Gods Throne in two ways:

In faith

2. In confidence

Ephesians 3:12

"In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him."

We need to be submissive to the Holy Spirit when praying and He will help us.

Romans 8:26

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

1 Corinthians 14:14-15

"For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit."

When Believers pray in the Spirit, they pray in tongues (their heavenly language) as the Holy Spirit gives them the words to speak.

1 Corinthians 14:2

"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries."

Leaving Gods Throne Room:

It is necessary to leave Gods Throne Room as carefully and respectfully as when we first approached Him.

We do this in three ways:

Express our thankfulness to God for hearing and answering us.

Philippians 4:6

"But in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

Acknowledge Gods authority and our submission to Him and His Kingdom.

Matthew 6:13

"For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."

Conclude our prayers with the word "amen".

When bowing out of the presence of the King of the Universe we end our prayer with the word amen.

It can be accurately described as a conclusive surrender to Gods will.

The word "amen" means - "so let it be done."

It is our acknowledgement that we accept things as God would have them to be.

Prayer is our method of communication with God:

There are three reasons why we need to have an open line of communication with God:

1. God is our Heavenly Father.

2. Children need to be able to speak to their Father at any time.

3. As Soldiers we need to have contact with God our Commander in Chief.

This enables us to be effective in the spiritual warfare we are waging against satan and his kingdom. This is how we receive His commands and make our needs known to Him.

Prayer blesses us in six ways.

It is our key to provision.

Philippians 4:6

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

It is our key to power.

Isaiah 40:31

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

It is the key to our desires.

Mark 11:24

"Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."                                                   

4. It is a way to give God our cares.

1 Peter 5:7

"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

4. It is a way of reminding God of His promises.

Isaiah 43:26

"Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified."

5. It is a way of finding help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

What posture is needed to pray?

There are at least five mentioned in the Bible:

We may bow down and kneel in prayer.

Ephesians 3:14

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

We may stand and pray.

Mark 11:25

"And when ye stand praying, forgive."

We may sit and pray.

Acts 2:2

"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting."

4.We may lay upon our face and pray.

Matthew 26:39

"And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed."

Prayer has three important ingredients:

It must be fervent. (Fiery, serious and intense)

James 5:16

"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

2. It must be done with a righteous heart.

Romans 14:17-18

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men."

3. It must be in accordance with Gods will.

Colossians 4:12

"Always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

Luke 22:42

"Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."

There are six rules of prayer:

1. Prayer should be made in the Name of Jesus Christ.

John 16:23

"And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you."

2. We are to pray in faith.

Matthew 21:21-22

"Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Hebrews 11:6

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

3. We need to pray persistently.

Luke11:5-9

"And he said unto them, which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;

For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?

And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.

I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

4. We need to pray in secret.

Matthew 6:6

"But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

5. We need to pray in humility.

Luke 18:10-14

"Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

6. We need to pray with a forgiving heart.

Matthew 6:14-15

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

The realm of prayer has five dimensions.

It is an emergency hotline to God.

Psalm 3:4

"I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill."

It takes us into Gods immediate and mighty presence.

Psalm 100:4

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:"

We experience the dimension of worship.

When approaching a King, it is necessary to follow special royal protocol, which involves presenting him with a gift. When we approach God, one of the gifts we bring Him is worship, which He so richly deserves.

4. We experience petitioning God.

1 John 5:15

"And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."

God has made it possible for us to come before His Throne, to speak to Him and present our requests to Him. Jesus Christ is our Righteous Advocate and Legal Counsel to help us. He also is our Intercessor and prays on our behalf. Jesus fully knows the requirements and Laws of God because He is the Word of God.

He is completely qualified to help us and has the wisdom and knowledge to defend us and rebut satans accusations against us.

1 John 2:1

"We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:"

As we confess and remind God of His promises, Jesus supports us as the High Priest of our confession.

Hebrews 3:1

"Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession (confession), Christ Jesus;"

5. We experience Gods secret place.

This is a special place that God has prepared in His presence for every one of His children. We can spend time and abide there. It is a place where we can be close to God and experience His warmth, protection and comforting presence.

It is described as being under His wings and in His shadow.

Psalm 91:1

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

Song of Solomon 2:3

"I sat down under his shadow with great delight."

It is a place of protection.

Psalm 27:5
"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock."

It is a place where we experience fullness of joy and pleasure.

Psalm 16:11

"In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."

It is a place where we can dwell and spend as much time as we want.

Psalm 140:13

"The upright shall dwell in thy presence."

There are three Courts in Gods presence that we may prayerfully enter into:

The Courts of Praise.

Here we function as Gods Priests, offering up oblations and spiritual sacrifices of praise to God.

1 Peter 2:5

"Ye also are a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

Hebrews 13:15

"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

The Courts of Instruction.

It is here in prayerful meditation that we can receive instruction and direction from God.

The Courts of banqueting.

Song of Solomon 2:4

"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love."

It is here in Gods presence that our spiritual senses are satisfied.

Psalm 36:7-9

"Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life."

In Gods presence, we taste, smell, see, hear and feel wonderful things:

The five spiritual senses are satisfied:

Psalm 34:8

"O taste and see that the LORD is good:"

Song of Solomon 2:3

"I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste."

We can enjoy the fragrance of His presence.

Song of Solomon 2:1

"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys."

There are different kinds of prayer that Christians pray:

Ephesians 6:18

"Praying always with all prayer."

There are at least six kinds of prayer:

1. Asking.

2. Agreeing.

3. Binding and Loosing.

4. Praying in the Spirit.

5. Intercession.

6. Seeking Gods face.

1. The prayer of asking.

Eight things are important about the prayer of asking:

a. Our Heavenly Father knows what we need.

Matthew 6:32

"For your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things."

b. The way to receive what we need is to ask God in the Name of Jesus.

Matthew 7:7

"Ask, and it shall be given you;"

John 16:23

"Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you."

c. Believers who do not ask do not receive.

James 4:2

"Ye have not, because ye ask not."

d. The scope for asking is unlimited.

God can answer every prayer.

Genesis 18:14

"Is any thing too hard for the LORD?"

Isaiah 45:11

"Concerning the work of my hands command ye me."

e. God wants our asking to be specific.

Matthew 7:9-11

"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

f. God loves supplying our needs.

Philippians 4:19

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

g. God gives to us so that our joy can be full.

John 16:24

"And ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."

h. We should ask with the right motive.

James 4:3

"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

2. The prayer of agreeing.

Matthew 18:19

"Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven."

The prayer of agreement is the simple act of two or more Christians agreeing and making a request to God in the name of Jesus.

Binding and loosing.

Matthew 18:18

"Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

The word whatsoever means anything.

The word bind is the Greek word "Desete" >.

It means to tie up and captivate.

The word loose is "Losete" >.

It means to loosen or break the cords.

With this kind of prayer we can tie up and captivate satans kingdom. We can also break the cords and set free any person or situation bound by satans kingdom.

4. Praying in the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:18

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."

When we pray in the Spirit we pray in an unknown tongue.

1 Corinthians 14:14

"For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful."

When we pray in an unknown tongue the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and helps us.

Romans 8:26

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Often we don't know what we need to pray for and the Holy Spirit helps us in a prayer language.

The prayer language we pray is mysterious and cannot be understood by men or satan.

1 Corinthians 14:2

"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries."

When praying in the Spirit we experience a special refreshing and rest in the Lord.

Isaiah 28:11-12

"For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.

To whom he said, this is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear."

By praying in the Spirit we are built up spiritually.

Jude 20

"But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost."

5. Intercession.

We need to consider six aspects of intercession:

1. Intercession is praying for others.

We need to pray for:

a. All men.

b. Our leaders.

c.  Those who have authority over us.

1 Timothy 2:1-2

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men:

For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty."

d. We are to pray for our fellow Believers.

Ephesians 1:16

"Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;"

Philippians 1:3

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."

Colossians 1:9

"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you."

2. God always looks for intercessors.

Ezekiel 22:30

"And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land."

An Old Testament example:

Genesis 18:20-23

"And the LORD said, because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"

A New Testament example:

Acts 12:5

"Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him."

3. Intercession is hard work.

Colossians 4:12

"Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers."

4. Intercession is spiritual warfare and combat.

Ephesians 6:12

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

The Greek word "wrestle" means "to fight till death" >in combat.

5. It is a spiritual watching in prayer for others, in all things:

1 Peter 4:7

"Watch unto prayer."

2 Timothy 4:5

"But watch thou in all things."

Hebrews 13:17

"For they watch for your souls."

Galatians 4:19

"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."

6. It is seeking Gods face.

Psalm 24:6

"This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face."

There are six important things about seeking Gods face:

a. God looks for Christians to seek Him.

Psalm 53:2

"God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.

b. God invites us to seek His face.

Psalm 27:8

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek."

c. We may seek the Lord early each day.

Isaiah 58:2

"Yet they seek me daily ."

Psalm 63:1

"O God, thou art my God; early > will I seek thee:"

d. How long do we seek Gods face?

Daniel 9:3

"And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:"

Seeking Gods face means to wait upon Him for shorter or longer periods.

Psalm 25:5

"On thee do I wait all the day."

e. We wait for God in prayer before His Throne.

Proverbs 8:34

"Watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors."

f. If we wait upon the Lord we will not be ashamed.

Isaiah 49:23

"For they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."

There are four reasons why some prayers remain unanswered:

Because of carnal motives.

James 4:3

"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."

2. Because of conscious sin.

John 9:31

"Now we know that God heareth not sinners:"

3. Because of insincere and repetitious words.

Matthew 6:7

"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

4. Because of praying out of Gods will.

John 15:7

"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."

The ultimate purpose of prayer is to minister to God.

Acts 13:2

"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted."

Fasting.

There are six aspects of fasting that we should consider:

1. Why Christians should fast.

The Bible gives great examples of spiritual men and woman who fasted.

Fasting releases Gods explosive spiritual Power and coupled with prayer brings about amazing results.

Here are four examples of those who fasted:

a. Moses fasted for forty days.

Deuteronomy 9:18

"And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water."

b. David fasted.

Psalm 35:13

"I humbled my soul with fasting;"

c. Jesus fasted for forty days.

Matthew 4:2

"And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward a hungered."

d. The Apostles, Prophets and Teachers fasted.

Acts 13:2

"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted."

2 Corinthians 11:27

"In fastings often"

2. Fasting is unto God and is God centered.

Matthew 6:18

"That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret:"

3. Fasting is abstaining from eating food.

Luke 4:2

"Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing"

4. When fasting, Christians should drink water.

5. How long should a fast be?

Christians fast for as long as the Holy Spirit leads them to fast.

Romans 8:14

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."

There are many examples in the Bible of Christians fasting for one, three, twenty-one or even forty days.

6. When we fast we are to do so in secret.

Matthew 6:16-18

"Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;

That thou appear not unto men to fast."

There are five reasons for fasting:

As a consecration to God.

Joel 2:12

"Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting."

To be heard of God.

Ezra 8:23

"So we fasted and besought our God for this: and he was intreated of us."

To bring deliverance in any situation.

Isaiah 58:6

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?"

4. For a revelation from God.

Daniel 9:2, 3, 22, 23

"In the first year of his reign I Daniel ... I set my face unto the Lord God,

And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision."

5. For health and healing.

Fasting cleanses the whole body and after its conclusion brings about health, healing and a general sense of well-being.

Believers are challenged to initially fast no more than one day at a time.

After showing progress they can proceed for longer periods, as the Holy Spirit leads them.

Remember to drink lots of water when you fast. If you have medical problems and are under doctors or medical treatment, be sure to first consult with them before fasting.

How does one break a fast?

It is necessary to cautiously and slowly break a fast. This can be done with diluted soup first and then baby foods and mashed fruit later. The stomach must be given time to return to its normal size. A stomach after fasting is like a babies stomach. The digestive organs must also be gently caressed into resuming their activity. The longer the fast the longer it takes to break a fast.

Here are some closing words about fasting.

From Jesus:

Matthew 9:15

"But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be take from them, and then shall they fast."

From Paul:

1 Corinthians 7:5

"That ye may give yourselves to fasting."

From personal experience:

Every day of fasting helps a Christian grow spiritually with greater success.

It is wise to make the choice of fasting.

Isaiah 58:6

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen?"

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